Most of us associate sunscreen use with the summer season, but the sun doesn’t take a holiday when summer ends. There are two types of UV radiation from the sun that cause damage to the skin – UVA and UVB. While the levels of UV radiation constantly change due to cloud cover, time of day or season, they can cause damage to your skin at any time. Roopal Kundu, M.D. says, “UV radiation is affected by multiple factors, such as time of year, but it is important to protect yourself from the sun 365 days of the year, as sun exposure is the most preventable risk factor for skin cancer.”
A recent study by Mayo Clinic researchers found an increase in the incidence of melanoma, the deadliest skin cancer, especially in young women. Some of this rise in melanoma cases is thought to be due to increased use of indoor tanning beds, which are no safer for your skin than the sun. Skin cancer develops when skin cells are damaged by UV rays and the cells begin to grow abnormally. Childhood sunburns and lifetime exposure to UV rays are also reasons for the increase in melanoma. The good news is that while more melanomas are being diagnosed, the study found that fewer people are dying from skin cancer, likely due to early detection and treatment.
Skin cancers account for about 80 per cent of all new cancers in Australia -- one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. The good news is that skin cancer is very preventable when you stay sun smart. Avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., the hottest part of the day. Jennifer Stein, M.D. says, ”Prevention is also important. Take precautions when in the sun, including wearing a wide-brimmed hat, sun-protective clothing and applying and reapplying sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays."
Summer may be over, but the sun is still out. Keep that sunscreen handy and use it year-round -- your skin will thank you.
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